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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 11

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

This emphatic reproduction of the old rule of Deuteronomy 25:13-14 is perhaps a trace of the danger of dishonesty incidental to the growing commerce of the Israelites. The stress laid upon the same sin in Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 20:10; bears witness to the desire of the teacher to educate the youth of Israel to a high standard of integrity, just as the protest of Hosea against it Hosea 12:7 shows the zeal of the prophet in rebuking what was becoming more and more a besetting sin.

A just weight - literally, as in the margin, indicating a time when stones rather than metal were used as a standard of weight. Compare Deuteronomy 25:13.

Verse 2

A rabbinic paraphrase of the second clause is: “Lowly souls become full of wisdom as the low place becomes full of water.”

Verse 4

The day of wrath - Words true in their highest sense of the great “diesirae” of the future, but spoken in the first instance (compare Zephaniah 1:15-18) of any “day of the Lord,” any time of judgment, when men or nations receive the chastisement of their sins. At such a time “riches profit not.”

Verse 7

Significant words, as showing the belief that when the righteous died, his “expectation” (i. e., his hope for the future) did not perish. The second clause is rendered by some, “the expectation that brings sorrow.”

Verse 9

Through knowledge - Better, By the knowledge of the just, shall they (i. e., the neighbors) be delivered.

Verse 11

The blessing of the upright - Probably the prayers which he offers for the good of the city in which he dwells, and which avail to preserve it from destruction (compare Genesis 18:23-33); or “the blessing which God gives the upright.”

Verse 12

None but the man “void of wisdom” will show contempt for those about him. The wise man, if he cannot admire or praise, will at least know how to be silent.

Verse 13

The man who comes to us with tales about others will reveal our secrets also. Faithfulness is shown, not only in doing what a man has been commissioned to do, but in doing it quietly and without garrulity.

Verse 14

Counsel - See Proverbs 1:5 note. This precept may well be thought of as coming with special force at the time of the organization of the monarchy of Israel. Compare 1 Kings 12:6.

Verse 15

See the marginal reference. The play upon “sure” and “suretiship” in the the King James Version (though each word is rightly rendered) has nothing corresponding to it in the Hebrew, and seems to have originated in a desire to give point to the proverb.

Verse 16

Or, “The gracious woman wins and keeps honor, as (the conjunction may be so rendered) strong men win riches.”

Verse 18

Deceitful work - Work which deceives and disappoints the worker; in contrast with the “sure reward” of the second clause.

Omit “shall be” and render, “but he that soweth righteousness worketh a sure reward.”

Verse 21

literally, “hand to hand.” The meaning of which is, “Hand may plight faith to hand, men may confederate for evil, yet punishment shall come at last;” or “From hand to hand, from one generation to another, punishment shall descend on the evil doers.”

Verse 22

The most direct proverb, in the sense of “similitude,” which has as yet met us.

Jewel of gold - Better, ring; i. e., the nose-ring Genesis 24:22, Genesis 24:47; Isaiah 3:21.

Without discretion - literally, “without taste,” void of the subtle tact and grace, without which mere outward beauty is as ill-bestowed as the nose-ring in the snout of the unclean beast. If we may assume that in ancient Syria, as in modern Europe, swine commonly wore such a ring to hinder them doing mischief, the similitude receives a fresh vividness.

Verse 24

Withholdeth more than is meet - i. e., Is sparing and niggardly where he ought to give. The contrast is stated in the form of a paradox, to which the two following verses supply the answer. Some render, “There is that withholdeth from what is due,” i. e., from a just debt, or from the generosity of a just man.

Verse 25

Liberal soul - literally, “the soul that blesses,” i. e., gives freely and fully. The similitudes are both of them essentially Eastern. Fatness, the sleek, well filled look of health, becomes the figure of prosperity, as leanness of misfortune Proverbs 13:4; Proverbs 28:25; Psalms 22:29; Isaiah 10:16. Kindly acts come as the refreshing dew and soft rain from heaven upon a thirsty land.

Verse 26

In the early stages of commerce there seems no way of making money rapidly so sure as that of buying up grain in time of famine, waiting until the dearth presses heavily, and then selling at famine prices. Men hate this selfishness, and pour blessings upon him who sells at a moderate profit.

Verse 27

Procureth - Better, striveth after. He who desires good, absolutely, for its own sake, is also unconsciously striving after the favor which attends goodness.

Verse 28

Branch - Better, leaf, as in Psalms 1:3; Isaiah 34:4.

Verse 29

He that troubleth ... - The temper, nigardly and worrying, which leads a man to make those about him miserable, and proves but bad economy in the end.

Verse 30

Winneth souls - Better, a wise man winneth souls. He that is wise draws the souls of people to himself, just as the fruit of the righteous is to all around him a tree of life, bearing new fruits of healing evermore. The phrase is elsewhere translated by “taketh the life” 1 Kings 19:4; Psalms 31:13. The wise man is the true conqueror. For the Christian meaning given to these words, see the New Testament reference in the margin.

Verse 31

The sense would appear to be, “The righteous is requited, i. e., is punished for his lesser sins, or as a discipline; much more the wicked, etc.” Compare 1 Peter 4:18.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/proverbs-11.html. 1870.
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